Astros, Nats expected to propose new Palm Beach County spring training plan shortly

Houston Astros spring trainingThe Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are expected to submit a revised plan for a new Palm Beach County spring training complex in the next few weeks, as the pair are working to finalize arrangements by the end of the year.

A joint Palm Beach County spring training complex has been the goal of the Astros for months now, with previous plans opposed by local residents for proximity to schools and protected wetlands. And while other cities in both Florida and Arizona have approached both teams, a rep for the Astros says his team’s preference is to focus on West Palm Beach:

“I know that different municipalities have been reaching out to both teams, but it’s still the preference of the Nationals and Astros to make this happen in West Palm Beach,’’ Giles Kibbe, general counsel for the Astros, told the Palm Beach Post. Now, given the financial issues facing Arizona communities because of decreased funding from ASTA, we’re not so sure the Phoenix-area communities are exactly lining up to woo either team. But we’re sure other Florida communities, given increased state spending for sports facilities, are interested.

The plan would hinge on a largely abandoned parcel in West Palm Beach at Haverhill Road and 45th Street that was formerly a garbage dump. The county and the city are discussing a land swap that would basically enable this deal: West Palm Beach would trade downtown land (currently used as surface parking) for the former garbage dump.

If the site does pass muster, the next issue on a Palm Beach County spring training plan is the cost, expected to be north of $100 million. Part of the cost can be reimbursed by a new plan designed to subsidize sports properties across the state. Rent paid by both teams would also be applied, but we’ll need to see about a final funding plan.

The Washington Nationals currently train at Viera’s Space Coast Stadium and have signaled their determination to move to a location closer to other spring-training sites. The Houston Astros train at Kissimmee’s Osceola County Stadium and want a new complex with upgraded facilities. The goal for both teams is a 2017 opening.

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